The match began with a lot of promise but in the end, there were no goals. Former champion West Bengal and Railways played out a goalless draw in the 67th Santosh Trophy National football championship at the Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.
Both teams had made it to the quarterfinal league earlier and the match was just to decide the Group ‘A’ topper. And Railways, which had a superior goal tally, topped the group and will stay in Kochi for the quarterfinals’ Group ‘A’ matches while Bengal will enter Group ‘D’ in Kollam and will have Manipur, Punjab and Karnataka for company.
Bengal almost took the lead in the opening minute. Arjun Chatterjee, after a promising run on the left, sent a nice cross to captain Dipendu Biswas inside the box. But Dipendu’s header was just a bit wide.
And in the 11th minute, Railways’ Gurpreet Singh’s hard shot from the left was well stopped by the goalkeeper Debjit Majumdar.
After a rather dull first half, the match warmed up nicely in the second. Bengal created three chances in a five-minute spell but Navin Hela’s shot went over in the 50th and within the next three minutes Dipendu’s freekick kissed the right post and Arjun Chatterjee’s shot went a bit wide.
At the other end, Railways’ midfielder M. Regin worked hard, creating chances, but the goal remained elusive.
Railways’ Balraj Singh was sent off in the 82nd minute, after picking his second yellow, for delaying his free kick and the referee’s decision surprised everybody. Balraj’s first yellow had come after he elbowed an opponent earlier. The championship will resume on Friday after a two-day break.